Friday, May 28, 2010

Cleaning House

Left: One box of newly labeled and re-housed electronic records here at Russell Library. Abby Griner, our very own Access and Electronic Records Archivist, is hard at work making space on the shelves and making sure user, preservation, and original copies have good homes!

Below: Some floppy disks in their new archival box. Though often Abby finds that the disks have been wiped clean or are corrupted and unreadable, these disks have been deemed worthy -- and so long as we have a way to retrieve the information from them, they are safe on the shelves. Isn't it amazing how quickly technology changes? And what that means for preserving history?

ROGP Celebration

On Wednesday, May 12, an impressive array of Georgia political veterans came to the Georgia Center on the UGA campus to celebrate the opening of Reflections on Georgia Politics Oral History Collection, a collaborative project of the Richard B. Russell Library and Young Harris College. Before lunch the lobby was packed with folks catching up – there were lot of warm smiles, handshakes, and hugs. As former State Representative Milton Jones put it, “it was great to see so many old good friends, exchange war stories and lies, and a good time seemed to be had by all.”

For streaming video of the event, click HERE

Reflections on Georgia Politics began in the fall of 2006 at Young Harris College, as a lecture and discussion program hosted by Bob Short, who Young Harris College President (and former Georgia Secretary of State) Cathy Cox called “the most effective politician I’ve ever known who was never elected to office.” In late 2007, the Richard B. Russell Library began producing the program as an oral history video series to further illuminate and personalize the tectonic shifts that occurred in Georgia politics in the late twentieth century: desegregation and the Civil Rights Movement, the impact of Baker v. Carr, and Georgia’s evolution as a two-party state. Former governors, constitutional officers, congressmen and senators, state legislators, political organizers, and journalists have strengthened the broad net cast by Reflections on Georgia Politics. At 119 programs and counting, and almost five days of video footage, Reflections on Georgia Politics represents a tremendous historical resource. The Russell Library serves as the repository for the series, making decades of political history, strategy, and stories of back-room politics accessible to the public.

In remarking on the series and the event, Cathy Cox said, “Today we celebrate this great partnership between UGA and Young Harris, to preserve a very unusual and very valuable recording of Georgia history. But most of all we want to jointly recognize and thank Bob Short for his understanding of the historical value of these interviews, for his persistence in nailing down and arranging all of the interviews, and for his incredible journalistic style, which made all the interviewees feel very comfortable in telling the stories of Georgia from their personal perspectives.”

Senator Zell Miller, a lifelong friend of Short’s, added, “Reflections on Georgia Politics is a monumentous achievement, it is a magnificent accomplishment. No one -- no one -- could have done this except Bob Short. He had the contacts around the state, he had the encyclopedic knowledge of Georgia politics, and the desire and the patience and the stamina and the will to criss-cross this state time and time again to interview, as you have been told, well over 100 men and women who have made significant contributions to Georgia politics.”

To see pictures from the event, click HERE.
The video interviews and transcripts (when available) for Reflections on Georgia Politics may be accessed in the following locations online:

The Reflections on Georgia Politics webpage:

iTunesU at UGA Page:

For further information on the project, or to make a donation to help support the program, contact Craig Breaden, Head of Media and Oral History at the Richard B. Russell Library, at 706-542-5782, or email at

Thursday, May 27, 2010

New Collection Open

The Russell Library is pleased to announce the opening of the James F. Cook Research Files.

James F. Cook, Jr. was born on December 3, 1940 and studied at Young Harris College (1960), Emory University (1962), and Georgia State University (1964), after which he became an instructor of history at Georgia State. Cook received his Ph.D. in history from the University of Georgia in 1972. He taught at Floyd College for thirty years, retiring in 2000, and was named Professor of History Emeritus in 2001. Cook has authored numerous articles and book chapters on Georgia history and politics. He is most well-known for the publications Governors of Georgia, 1754-2004; Carl Sanders: Spokesman of the New South; and Carl Vinson: Patriarch of the Armed Forces.

This collection primarily focuses on the research and publication of the book Carl Vinson: Patriarch of the Armed Forces by James F. Cook. Photocopies of research material, notes, correspondence, photographs, and transcripts of interviews conducted with Sam Nunn, Ed Vinson, Louis and Neta Stockstill, and Carl Sanders make up the majority of the files. There are three albums containing original correspondence between Carl Vinson and the Stockstills dating from 1962 to 1976. Also, there are a few of Cook’s early writings and a small amount of material related to his book Governors of Georgia, 1754-2004.

The Russell Library is open for research from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday (except University holidays). For further information on the James F. Cook Research Files, please contact or call (706) 542-5788.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Reflections Celebration

Last Wednesday, May 12, 2010, the Russell Library hosted a luncheon in honor of Bob Short - the tireless interviewer of the Reflections on Georgia Politics oral history series. Participants in Reflections and their guests gathered to toast Bob and this amazing project, which documents decades of state political history. Check out the online album below to see a few snapshots from the event. More ROGP coverage to come early next week!

Reflections on Georgia Politics Luncheon

Post by Jan Levinson


Russell Library Director Sheryl Vogt, in her role as President of the Association of Centers for the Study of Congress (ACSC), welcoming attendees to this year's annual meeting at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Colleagues Jill Severn (Head of Access and Outreach) and Kat Stein (Head of Arrangement and Description) are also in attendance. Have a great conference all!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Informal Forum (5/21/2010): America's Role in the World

The Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia (RFCLG) is hosting National Issues Forums on a monthly basis at the Russell Library. Our next informal forum will take place this Friday, May 21st from 3:00-4:30PM in the Russell Library auditorium.

This month's deliberative forum considers America's role in the world. What does “national security” mean in the 21st century? And how do we, as citizens of the United States, think our elected leaders should go about securing our nation? Does the answer lie in strengthening the military or balancing the budget? Or perhaps it’s a question of our active participation in a global society – working with other countries to find collaborative solutions to issues like overpopulation, nuclear proliferation, global warming, pandemics, and food shortages.

Using the National Issues Forums guide, America's Role in the World: What Does National Security Mean in the 21st Century?, the group will consider several approaches to tackling this complex issue. Trained neutral moderators will guide the discussion. The event is free and open to all. More information is available by contacting Jan Levinson at 706-542-5788. For more information about Russell Forum for Civic Life in Georgia, visit

How to Find the Russell Library: The Russell is located on the bottom floor of the Main Library building on UGA's north campus. Follow the path down the right side of the main library building (the west facing side) and down the stairs to access our door!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Reid All About It

The Reid Harris Papers related to the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act are now open for research at the Russell Library.

Reid Walker Harris was born July 6, 1930 in Brunswick, Georgia. He earned a bachelor’s degree in political science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1952, graduated from the U.S. Army Russian Language School at the Presidio, and earned his law degree from Emory University in 1958. Harris was elected to the Georgia House of Representatives in 1964 and served for six years. During this time he was the principal author of several laws concerning conservation of the coastlands, including the Georgia Surface Mining Act and the Coastal Marshland Protection Act. Harris served as head of the environmental section of Governor Jimmy Carter’s Goals for Georgia program and later as chairman of the governor’s State Environmental Council. Reid Harris is retired and lives on St. Simons Island.

The papers consist of scrapbooks, publications, press releases, clippings, correspondence, photographs, and draft legislation related to Reid Harris' involvement in the passing of the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act of 1970. Also included is a publication by Harris titled, “And the Coastlands Wait” (2008) and his acceptance speech for the 2009 Rock Howard Award.

An oral history interview conducted with Reid Harris may be viewed at the Reflections of Georgia Politics Oral History Collection.

The Russell Library is open for research from 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday. For further information on the Reid Harris Papers related to the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act, please contact or call (706) 542-5788.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Step 4: Barcoding & Labeling

In the face of our move, we have been reality checked on many fronts. One such realization hits when we move beyond assessing the appropriateness of our containers, and look to their identification (i.e. labels). Reality Check: Not all of our containers have permanent labels. In fact, most do not. Many of our boxes have an index card clipped to their front which provides the name of the collection and the box number; this is not permanent by any means.

As mentioned previously, one of the trade-offs of our new facility is that Russell staff will not have the same hands-on access to collections we currently enjoy. Once they are put into “the cube” they will be accessed and delivered to staff and researchers on the upper floors of the building by a trained team, stationed in the cube. This altered workflow makes it ESSENTIAL that all the boxes we have are properly labeled and barcoded so that when a request is made the proper boxes make the journey upstairs.
Below: Dutiful student with boxes to re-label.

With this in mind, we have assigned one of our student workers to a sole assignment: apply permanent labels to our most heavily used collections -- the Richard B. Russell Collection and the Herman E. Talmadge Collection. She is not only labeling the boxes, but ensuring that our inventory matches what is physically on the shelves. To give you a sense of the scale of this project, let’s talk in hours of project time. The student dedicated to this project began work at the Russell in the fall of 2009 and dutifully works 10 hours per week, with the exception of university holidays. So far, she has completed labeling/inventory matching on 1,049 out of the 3,500 boxes that make up the Russell Collection. With her return next fall, she will resume the project and continue on with the remainder of Russell, and then onto Talmadge.

Now for barcoding. Beyond labels, we also have to apply barcodes to all of our containers, loose objects, and map folders. The barcodes will play an equally crucial role in the workflow of moving requested boxes from the cube to the research room. It is by barcode number - which connects the physical box with the intellectual identity (number, series, collection, etc.) - that staff will request boxes, using an automated computer system. We haven’t begun this project yet, but we plan to start by barcoding the Russell Collection first since it is the most complex. The barcode labels and scanners should be ordered this week, so hopefully we will begin this project this summer.

Labeling & Barcoding is a fairly straightforward step, but one that cannot begin without the completion of many of the steps we have already described (identify, inventory, pack). If any of you readers have experience with barcoding projects and want to share tips, tricks, or just general experiences, please shoot us an email (

Post by Kat Stein & Jan Levinson, Russell Library

Reflections on iTunesU

The Russell Library is pleased to announce that the entire Reflections on Georgia Politics Collection is now available on iTunesU at UGA!

As you'll recall from previous blog posts, Reflections on Georgia Politics is a project that began in the fall of 2006 at Young Harris College, as a lecture and discussion program hosted by Georgia political veteran Bob Short. In late 2007, the Richard B. Russell Library began producing the program as an oral history series, traveling across Georgia to videotape interviews with former governors, constitutional officers, congressmen, state legislators, political organizers, and journalists. These conversations are captured and the Russell Library serves as a repository for the resulting tapes - making decades of political history, strategy, and stories of back-room-politics accessible to the public.

The accessibility of the interviews has reached a new level now that the collection of 118 programs (and still growing!) is available for download on iTunesU at UGA. To access the collection:

1. Visit; This will launch iTunes on your computer (if it's installed) and take you to the iTunesU UGA page.
2. Click on "UGA Libraries" on the list on the left, and Reflections will be one of your choices.
3. Choose an interview and enjoy!

Please note that iTunesU at UGA has not yet been added to the iTunes Store, so it must be accessed currently through the link above. More blogging to come on Reflections and its achievements in the coming weeks! Stay tuned.

Thompson Papers Open

The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies is pleased to announce that the M. E. Thompson Papers are now open for research. The collection documents important moments in the life of Melvin Ernest (M. E.) Thompson, Georgia’s first lieutenant governor and participant in the famed “Three Governors Controversy.”

M. E. Thompson was born in Millen, Georgia on May 1, 1903. Growing up in rural Georgia, M. E. faced many challenges to getting an education. In the seventh grade he had to leave his one room school for two years to help on the family farm. Thompson was able to return to school for the eighth grade when his grandfather, Reverend H.G. Edenfield, offered to pay his tuition at the school in nearby Millen. Upon graduation from high school, Thompson attended Piedmont College and then transferred to Emory University taking on part time jobs to make ends meet – selling Fuller brushes, waiting tables, and working as a night clerk in a small Atlanta hotel. In 1926 he married his high school sweetheart, Ann Newton, and settled into a teaching career in Emmanuel County, Georgia

Thompson’s career in education began at the Emanuel County Institute in Graymount-Summit, Georgia. He moved through the administrative ranks quickly, first becoming the principal and athletic coach at the high school in Hawkinsville and then, at age twenty-four, becoming superintendent of Hawkinsville Public Schools. After five years as superintendent, Thompson assumed the position of state school supervisor in the Georgia Department of Education. In 1937 Governor E.D. Rivers appointed Thompson assistant state school superintendent.

After working his way to the state capitol, M. E. Thompson threw his support to Ellis Arnall in the 1942 gubernatorial campaign. Once Arnall defeated incumbent Governor Eugene Talmadge, he appointed Thompson as his executive secretary and in 1945, as state revenue commissioner. In 1946, Thompson set his sights on the office of state school superintendent but as election season approached, he decided instead to run for lieutenant governor – a new position created by the 1945 state constitution. Without aligning himself with any of the candidates for governor, Thompson won the race.

Below: Thompson and wife Ann in the Governor's Mansion, 1948.

Shortly after the election, governor-elect Eugene Talmadge died suddenly. With no precedent to follow and no specific direction outlined in the state constitution, three men claimed rights to the office of governor – creating what came to be known as the “Three Governors Controversy.” After weeks of indecision and infighting, the court upheld Thompson as the rightful governor until a new election could be held in 1948.

Amidst trying conditions, M. E. Thompson fought hard to make progress on the goals of the Democratic Party’s platform. During his brief tenure as Governor he increased spending for education, expanded the construction of roads and bridges, and improved the state’s park system. And, thanks to an increase in state revenue, he achieved all these improvements with no new taxes.

Below: Thompson on the campaign trail, ca. 1950.

After Thompson lost to Herman Talmadge in the 1948 Democratic gubernatorial primary, he regrouped and prepared to challenge Talmadge in the race for a full gubernatorial term two years later. Though unsuccessful in 1950, Thompson continued to pursue a life in politics, campaigning for Governor again in 1954 and for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1956. After defeat in both races, Thompson retired from the campaign trail and settled in Valdosta, Georgia where he began a successful career in real estate.

A collection of correspondence, speeches, photographs, memorabilia, and audiovisual materials, the M. E. Thompson Papers offer a glimpse into the private life of a dedicated educator, businessman, and politician. More than 200 photographs illustrate Thompson’s childhood, family life, and gubernatorial and senatorial campaigns, with memorabilia documenting his civic achievements, career and commitment to public education. Highlights from the collection include a campaign brochure outlining Thompson’s platform in the 1948 Gubernatorial race, platform statements issued on various topics during the early 1950s, speech cards, and telegrams from Thompson’s supporters. Perhaps the most revealing items are six television campaign advertisements featuring Thompson’s views about the county unit system and education are a particular highlight of the collection; these films are now available for viewing online right here on the Russell Library Blog:

The Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies is open for research Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 4:30pm. For more information, please visit or call (706) 542-5788.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Fond Farewell

Today we had a party to celebrate the hard work of our student workers here at the Russell Library. A few are staying with us over the summer, while others are headed home or off on adventures around the world this summer. One of our most valued workers - Melissa, who has been with us for two years, is graduating this weekend and heading off into the wider world beyond Athens. To Melissa -- good luck & keep us posted on your travels and exploits! To all the rest - Sheritta, Kengelle, Ross, Javad, Anita, Kathryn, Courtney, and Donovan - good luck with exams and we'll see you soon!

Below: Group shot - with a few cut off by my inadequate camera skills! Large group - excellent fiesta!

Monday, May 03, 2010

Outside the Box - May

Where’s the Party?
Full-scale television coverage of national party conventions began in 1952, turning what had been a gathering of party leaders and faithful supporters into a media event on view for a much broader audience. Convention sessions were reorganized to occur largely in the evening hours – the peak viewing times for the at-home audience – and the schedule of events was tightened. That same year, the conventions began to occur in the months of July and August.

The number of delegates in attendance at each party’s convention varies from year to year, and has steadily grown since the introduction of these events in the 19th century. In 2000, the Democratic National Convention hosted 4,337 delegates and 610 alternates; the Republican National Convention hosted 2,066 delegates and an equal number of alternates. Delegates are often seen carrying signs and wearing outlandish outfits to draw increased attention to their candidate, especially to the viewers at home.

Maxine at the 1996 Democratic
National Convention

Maxine Goldstein: “The Hat Lady"Born in 1926, Maxine Goldstein has been an active volunteer in the Democratic Party since the 1960s. She has held positions on both the state and national level, serving on the National Convention Site Committee in 1988. As of 2008, she has been a delegate at the last eleven Democratic national conventions and was a presidential elector in 1980. Mrs. Goldstein has become famous as the “Hat Lady” for the elaborate hats she creates to wear at the conventions, such as the donkey-topped hat she wore at the 1984 National Democratic Convention, complete with batteries for activating the donkey, and the “green peanut” hat she wore at her first convention in 1976.

This month we display the Hat Lady's most recent creation: A red cowboy hat Goldstein sported at the 2008 Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado. The top of the hat is adorned with a miniature bathroom set. Faux dollar bills are stuffed down various drains, and a sign across the front proclaims “Stop America’s Economy From Going Down the Drain.” The back of the hat reveals campaign buttons in support of both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

May’s “Outside the Box” object will be on display in the lobby gallery of the Russell Library, open 8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Monday through Friday, until May 31st. For further information on this feature, or the Maxine Goldstein Papers, please contact or visit

Post by Jan Levinson, Assistant Outreach Archivist, Russell Library

Step 3: Pack it Up

The most physically intensive preparations for the move involve the re-housing of collections to ensure that we are moving stable, standard sized boxes into the new space. We have a variety of less than ideal storage currently, including fruit, egg and liquor boxes, shopping and grocery bags, and boxes that weigh far too much for any single person to lift. Beyond unconventional containers, we also have lots of non-traditional and oversize items that make packing a bit more challenging. Although there are not as many of these types of materials in the collections, the ones that do exist require greater amounts of planning (and some creative thinking) as compared to their document counterparts living in standard, archival boxes on the shelves:

Over 200 scrapbooks and ledgers, many of which are too large, heavy, or pointy to be boxed easily

Dozens of model airplanes, rockets, and boats. Many are lightweight, but delicate and require custom cradles and boxes to ensure they survive the move in one piece.

Statues, awards, and plaques – some of glass, metal, wood or a combination of all three.

Thousands of smaller artifacts including jewelry, pocket knives, pins and buttons, and even balloons.

A cast iron stove and wash pot.

A Rural Electrification pole.

There are easy solutions for many of our non-traditional items.
We will use tubes and Tyvek for rolled textile storage and have ordered small, compartmentalized trays for the thousands of small
and medium sized artifacts. As for the scrapbooks and ledgers, we are considering shrink wrapping them to ensure that they are protected and that no pages or artifacts within them come loose or get lost.

We are also considering how to move many fragile and breakable items. One plan is to simply decrease the number of breakable things by de-framing many of our framed objects. This could enable us to store items in more appropriate housing and to decrease the pieces of potentially breakable glass that we have to move.

For some of our most fragile items, we are currently brainstorming ways to accommodate them on the journey. One great example is the Larry Walker whiteboard, featured as our first “Outside the Box” object in 2009. This is an item which was never intended to last forever – it is literally a white board which contains text and numbers written in dry erase marker. Every time it is touched or moved, more of the marker is erased. Although we have scanned the board, thus documenting its content, we would like to keep the item as intact as possible and so have decided to fashion a custom cradle and cover for this object. Other items, which are unique for a variety of reasons, will require this kind of specialty housing for the move.

And, of course, we are also moving a variety of unstable materials including liquids (snow globes, turpentine), matches, and lighters. But that is likely fodder for a whole other post. For now, let’s just leave it at this: packing is another challenge. As in all of our moving steps, we are taking time to assess and strategize before making decisions on how to proceed.

Post by Jan Levinson & Kat Stein, Russell Library